Liska Konig
Liska Konig

Sometime during my teenage years, my mother decided that learning to cook was a mandatory skill for her oldest child, a.k.a. me.

Born in mid-war Germany as the middle child of a farmer’s family with nine children, it made total sense to my mother that cooking and darning socks were necessary survival tools for her daughter. After all, daughters grow up to be women, get married, have children and need to know how to be a German version of Martha Stewart.

My mother’s timing was, let’s say, not so excellent. It was right during my scary hippie feminist phase, (no, I will not post pictures.), which was followed by my grumpy goth phase. “Come into the kitchen, I’m gonna teach you how to make a sauce because you’ll be a mother and homemaker someday,” was really the last thing I wanted to hear. I was too busy rebelling against my parents and the rest of the world and that was really the last thing I wanted to hear. Despite teenage tantrums galore, my mother was persistent, and in the end—as much as I hate to admit it—she won.

My mother lit the tiny pilot light that still fuels the flame of one of my favourite hobbies. Up to this day, I cook when I’m happy or depressed or lonely. I enjoy having my friends over for an elaborate dinner party and using them as guinea pigs to for new recipes. I am an avid cookbook reader and retreat to the kitchen to cut up poor innocent veggies into tiny pieces.

To me, cooking and eating still fall in the category of playing with food. As much as I love it, it’s still a luxury. My salute goes out to you, strong women, who cater to the palate of a picky eater girlfriend or prepare daily meals for children, who, like my friend Yvonne’s son Luis, wouldn’t even eat white rice at a Thai restaurant. My admiration goes out to anybody who can do that and still find the fun in it.

And what about all those women brave enough to work in the male-dominated culinary industry, where it’s hard to earn respect as a woman, gay or straight?  Many of them work long hours in a back-breaking, long paying job and make barely enough to pay the rent and live. Top Chef, Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen and various other shows make cooking look like oodles of fun and glamour and culinary schools are experiencing a boom like never before. Well, it ain’t so—not everybody becomes a star chef. Often it’s hard work without much credit. Keep up the spirit, ladies—and I’m not talking about taking bigger swigs from the bottle of moonshine—you rock!

Point is; cooking should be fun. Food should be fun. If there’s a special person in your life who taught you how to chop parsley or make matzo ball soup or even just how to order well at a restaurant—take a minute and thank her (or him) for that. Without that person opened your mind to a new world full of new experiences and saved you from a life devoid of flavour.

And just in case you are wondering—my brother was the one who got away. To this day he does not know how to cook anything. Poor guy.